- Former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith is partnering with Marriott Hotels to offer the company's members an NFL Combine-like experience.
- The NFL announced winners for its 1st and Future pitch day event.
Former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith, the National Football League's all-time leading rusher, is teaming up with hospitality giant Marriott Hotels to deliver fans a unique experience during Super Bowl LIV in Miami.
Smith, 50, is assisting Marriott Bonvoy, the travel program from the company, to offer fans an opportunity to watch the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs from a luxury suite at Hard Rock Stadium. Attendees will have have access to a "Courtyard Party" with pop band The Chainsmokers performing as part of its "Moments" experience.
The former Cowboy is contractually obligated to participate in the events after agreeing to a partnership with Marriott. Financial terms of the agreement were not made available.
"What I like about the program is it involves creating these experiences," Smith told CNBC. "It's all about experiences, and Marriott has done a great job with creating these experiences for their memberships."
Smith hosted two of the experiences via a masterclass, which allowed Marriott members to collectively redeem three million points to participate in NFL Combine-like drills. Select members exchanged the points for a five-night stay at Marriott-owned EDITION hotel on Miami Beach leading up to Sunday's game.
The three-time Super Bowl Champion and Pro Football Hall of Famer called the partnership with Marriott a "natural fit" as Smith is an active real estate investor.
Smith, who rushed for 18,355 yards in his 15-year NFL career, created real estate companies E Smith Advisors, a brokerage service in partnership with New York and London-based firms Newmark Knight Frank. He is also chairman at E Smith Construction, a commercial construction company, and E Smith Legacy, a commercial real estate holding firm.
Asked to predict a winner for Sunday's contest, Smith, who was named Super Bowl XXVIII MVP, selected the 49ers, believing that the better defensive unit will be the determining factor.
"I know Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek [Hill] and all those players are pretty fast," said Smith, "and I do love [Chiefs owners] the Hunt Family because they are out of Dallas themselves. But I'm just going with defenses win championships."
The NFL awarded $150,000 total at its version of pitch day – "1st and Future" – which was held at the Miami Convention Center with finalists presenting ideas to help the league with innovation in player health.
This year's competition featured two categories: data analytics and a start-up competition for products and concepts that could improve player health and safety.
Three finalists were awarded $25,000 each while Protect3d -- a Durham, North Carolina-based 3D scanning and printing technology company -- took the top prize of $50,000 in the "Innovations to Advance Athlete Health and Safety" competition. Plantiga, a Vancouver, British Columbia company that specializes in the study of movement via footwear analytics, took second place in the category.
Denver-based duo Ben and Steve Jenkins, who dissected NFL data to help identify factors that contribute to lower limb injuries, took first place in the analytics competition. Also, all winners were awarded tickets to Super Bowl LIV.
"We were impressed by all of the finalists' pitches today and are excited to be crowdsourcing creative thinking from the entrepreneurial and data science communities," Jeff Miller, NFL executive vice president of health and safety innovation said in a statement. "We'll take this forward to the NFL Scouting Combine as we meet with medical committees and the Competition Committee and discuss new and innovative ways to evolve the game."
The NFLPA held its pitch day earlier in the week, with each of its early-stage company winners awarded $10,000 for marketing and the opportunity to obtain licensing rights.
ShotTracker, a technology company that provides real-time basketball stats and insight to teams and broadcasters, announced a partnership with sports marketing firm Learfield IMG.
The multi-year deal calls for the Learfield IMG to represent ShotTracker on the sponsorship marketplace, and the firm will obtain an undisclosed percentage of all new sponsorship deals per the agreement.
"I love their expertise as it relates to college sports," co-founder and president Davyeon Ross told CNBC. "One of the things that is exciting for us is – we've been focused on basketball, but with the opportunity to work with Learfield IMG, they've started to force us to think even more aggressively about other sports that we can take this technology to because we think that revolutionizing the fan experience is not just specific to basketball. So, I love the energy and the fact they have such amazing relationships across college sports."
ShotTracker has raised more than $25 million from investors, including NBA legend Magic Johnson and the late former NBA commissioner David Stern. The system uses sensors placed around an arena to track movement in real-time, allowing players to identify their most productive areas on the court. It costs $45,000 to install, according to Sports Business Journal. ShotTracker's technology is utilized by more than 60 NCAA men's and women's college basketball schools, with partners including apparel companies Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.